It’s the debate that just won’t die: is The Silence of the Lambs a Christmas movie? Naysayers say “nay” and they say “nay” because it’s a movie with none of the “traditional” things like bells and stockings and mistletoe, that pepper other Christmas movies, like It’s a Wonderful Life and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Elf. When you silence the naysayers and examine the film with a more astute cinematic eye, it becomes clear that The Silence of the Lambs is a Christmas movie.
We are here to end the debate once and for all.
For starters, when started simultaneously, The Silence of the Lambs and Mariah Carey’s inaugural Christmas album, Merry Christmas, are perfectly in sync. It’s astonishing really. Turn down the volume on the TV and turn up Mariah and the actions of Clarice Starling, Hannibal Lecter, Jack Crawford, and the whole film perfectly corresponds to the songs. This culminates when Buffalo Bill does his opus: that dance he does with his peepee tucked between his legs. He is dancing perfectly in sync with Mariah Carey’s opus “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” The Christmas magic that the conflagration of opuses creates cannot be overstated. Try it. You’ll be amazed. And moved by Christmas magic.
Biblical references related to the birth of Jesus abound in the film:
- According to the gospels, lambs came to see baby Jesus when he was laying in the manger and Mary told the shepherds, “You better keep those dirty sheep quiet cause my new baby sleeping!” so the shepherds, admonished by Mary, silenced their lambs by any means necessary. (The gospel of Luke recounts Mary saying, “I just swaddled my new baby and I can’t deal with these animals right now.” Either way, the message was clear: SILENCE THE LAMBS.)
- Additionally, the guy at the FBI is named Jack Crawford. You know who else’s initials are “J.C.”? Jesus Christ, who was born on Christmas Day.
- The lotion that Buffalo Bill makes that girl put in the basket is a symbol of the frankincense-scented lotion that the wise man brought to baby Jesus. The basket is a symbol of the gifts we give at Christmas. I bet Buffalo Bill also had some myrrh-scented body butter that he gave his visitors.
- When that Senator said “Take this thing back to Baltimore,” it reminds us of when Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem which was the Baltimore of the ancient times. This is a known fact.
- Clarice graduated from the University of Virginia, an excellent and highly competitive college named after the Virgin Mary who was the mother of the Baby Jesus.
Let’s not forget Santa:
- A pivotal exchange when Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling exchange revelatory information, they keep saying “quid pro quo.” “Quid pro quo” is Latin for “ho ho ho.” Look it up.
- When soon-to-be-victim Catherine Martin is driving and singing along to Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” it’s a metaphor for Santa Claus driving his sleigh and bringing American Girl Dolls to all the children. Also, when Buffalo Bill pretends to be injured to get Catherine to help him, it’s sort of like he’s Tiny Tim in Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol.
- Much is made throughout the film that Buffalo Bill is making a suit. Implicit in this is that he is making a Santa Claus suit so he can be a Santa at the mall, which is a homonym for “maul,” which is what Buffalo Bill does to his victims. Some theorize that Buffalo Bill was making an ugly-skin sweater to wear to an ugly-skin-sweater-themed holiday party.
Christmas symbols and metaphors are plentiful in this Christmas film:
- Clarice’s last name is “Starling” and a starling is a bird. In the olden days, when people couldn’t afford to buy a partridge and put it in a pear tree, they would use starlings. Then they would teach their starlings to sing Christmas carols. This is a fact that is known, the relevance of which can not be overstated.
- When Hannibal tells Clarice he ate that guy’s liver with “some fava beans and a nice chianti,” that is a metaphor for eating figgy pudding and eggnog with a big Christmas ham. Movies are filled with metaphors and symbols, you just have to look for them.
- (Spoiler Alert) When Jack Crawford goes to the wrong house to find Clarice, he hides behind a florist’s van. That van was delivering poinsettias, the official flower of Christmas.
- Butterflies are a recurring theme in the film. In the original script, these were supposed to be reindeer (which are better fliers than butterflies) but they couldn’t fit the reindeer in the victims’ mouths. Still, the symbolism remains.
- You can see snow when the FBI guy is in the helicopter, which means it is going to be a white Christmas. Also, Buffalo Bill was named that because he was born in Buffalo, New York where it snows a lot and looks like Christmas all year round. His real name is Jamie Gumb. When his ancestors came through Ellis Island they shortened his last name to Gumb from “Gumdrop” which is a food we eat at Christmas.
- “Christmas Time” is an anagram for “Cream His Mitts,” which is what Miggs does before he throws his semen in Jodie Foster’s face. You can bet Miggs had some fucked up Christmases in whatever house he grew up in!
- Lastly, (Spoiler Alert) when Hannibal says, “I’m having an old friend for dinner,” what he REALLY means is that at Christmas we should reconnect with people in our lives.
There you have it! Merry Christmas! Quid pro quo!